The first you have to do is get used to the board. The best way to do that is to stand on the edge, bend over at the hips, lean over on your toes… and fall in! This is called a pike fall and it helps you get past that initial barrier of being scared and actually giving it a go. By falling like this you’re bound to get your hips over your head before you hit the water, meaning you will go in head first. Don’t even push off at this point because it can be quite hard to control – learn how to fall properly first!
2. Keep your eyes forward
While you’re doing the pike fall, look down – don’t worry, just pick a point where you want your hands to hit the water and your body will follow. But for a real dive, it’s a bit different. Stand upright and keep your eyes and head up. If you look down at this point you’re going to over-rotate, so keep your eyes forward until after you’ve jumped off and your hips are over your head. Then find a point in the water and maintain eye contact until you break the surface.
3. Get your hands right
The “push and pop” of your hands is really important if you’re aiming for a clean entry. Imagine putting one arm up by your head with your wrist up, like you’re pushing against a ceiling. Then clasp your other hand tightly on top. It’s not like a swimming action where you cup the water, you have to push against the water as you enter with arms above your head. Then once you’ve broken the surface, the trick to getting a good entry is to pop your hands out of that tight position and “swim” down. That creates a vacuum, and sucks all the water under that would normally splash up.
4. Keep your body straight
It sounds obvious, but you need to be very aware of where your body is in relation to the water. Every diver needs core stability to make sure they can control their body in the air and keep it straight as they enter the water without snapping. Things do obviously go wrong, especially when you’re just starting out. I’ve landed flat loads of times, hit my head twice on the board, pulled my tricep and bruised a couple of bones in my back – when you enter the water at 30-40 mph, if you don’t have good core strength you’re going to be in trouble!
5. Embrace the fear
I still get scared going off the high 10m platform, and I’ve been doing it since I was eight years old! It feels like the board is getting narrower and narrower as you walk to the end. There’s nothing wrong with being scared and getting your heart going. I guess you have to be a bit of an adrenaline junkie but that’s the reason I love diving and keep getting back on the board!